Changes of Hand Switching Costs during Bimanual Sequential Learning

Sabrina Trapp, Jöran Lepsien, Bernhard Sehm, Arno Villringer, Patrick Ragert, Marc O. Ernst
2012 PLoS ONE  
Many tasks in our daily life demand not only the use of different fingers of one hand in a serial fashion, but also to alternate from one hand to the other. Here, we investigated performance in a bimanual serial reaction time task (SRTT) with particular emphasis on learning-related changes in reaction time (RT) for consecutive button presses for homologous index-and middle fingers. The bimanual SRTT consisted of sequential button presses either with the left or right index-and middlefinger to a
more » ... series of visual letters displayed on a computer screen. Each letter was assigned a specific button press with one of four fingers. Two outcome measures were investigated: (a) global sequence learning as defined by the time needed to complete a 15-letter SRTT sequence and (b) changes in hand switch costs across learning. We found that bimanual SRTT resulted in a global decrease in RT during the time course of learning that persisted for at least two weeks. Furthermore, RT to a button press showed an increase when the previous button press was associated with another hand as opposed to the same hand. This increase in RT was defined as switch costs. Hand switch costs significantly decreased during the time course of learning, and remained stable over a time of approximately two weeks. This study provides evidence for modulations of switch costs during bimanual sequence learning, a finding that might have important implications for theories of bimanual coordination and learning.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0045857 pmid:23029279 pmcid:PMC3448681 fatcat:tg4odputpbc5nmgomgukiceyfu